I couldn't even go to breakfast this morning, because when I stood up I felt so strange and dizzy like I was going to spill. I don't mean puke, that's fine, at least, I mean it's like my whole head has been replaced by a sloshy fishbowl. Egg volunteered to stay with me. I tried to argue with him about it. I told him he had to go to breakfast, that breakfast is mandatory, and that I don't need his help. Egg said breakfast is not mandatory if you have some good reason not to go, and since I was talking about my head spilling I probably wasn't competent to decide if I needed help.
I had to concede his point.
I should probably explain that Egg is one of the new students, but that he's a mastery candidate so
Yes, I've asked, it's Elk.
They're twins, but not identical. Ham is a lot taller, and seems older. I mean, like, actually older, not the fifteen minutes or whatever that he really is. Apparently, when they were little, Ham had red hair and Egg was blond. They both have brown hair, now, more or less. But when they were little, lying in their crib, the two little heads next to each other reminded their parents of ham and eggs. And their real named are Hamish and Egbert, or something like that, so they really needed nick-names.
The funny thing about being sick here is that nobody has anything normal, like Advil or Vicks Vapo Rub. When Ham got back from breakfast he offered to bike into town to get me some, but I said not to. We just had an ice storm and the roads are terrible. I didn't want to eat the food Ham brought, but they talked me into it--miso soup with lots of ginger and garlic in it. Apparently, that's good for me. I also let them talk me into drinking herbal teas they made from the stuff in the herbarium. They made two teas--elacampane and licorice root, which really seemed to make my chest and throat feel better, and, later, basil and black pepper, which was supposed to bring my fever down, but I can't tell if it did or not. The fever comes and goes, anyway.
"I can't sleep," I told Egg.
"You don't have to," he told me.
"But I'm not awake, either."
"Want some Reiki?" he asked.
And he put out his hand and touched my head and I went away for a while.
"There's a silver lining to this," I said, sometime later. I was lying on my bed in just my boxers. I'd kicked off the covers, but I couldn't remember when I'd done that.
"This is the first time I've ever felt warm in the Mansion in winter." We both laughed. Laughing made my head hurt and I had to cough again, but I didn't want to stop.
"What's it like, being a mastery candidate?" I asked a while later.
"I don't know. I haven't been one long enough. It's good to be back, though."
"Anyone left who you remember?"
"Not in this dorm. A couple of people from Hawk and Snake. And Rove, in Elk, says he remembers me, but I don't remember him."
"Yeah, he returned to be a candidate my last year. But..."
"He was a candidate, so you hardly talked to him."
"Yeah. I guess no one will talk to me, now?"
I made some kind of noise. I've always thought the candidates keep to themselves, and that if they talked to us, we'd talk to them. But my head hurt, and I couldn't figure out how to explain it.
"What did you study when you were here?" I asked.
"Bedside manner. Joy's pre-med course, you know?"
I knew. It's not really a pre-med course officially, especially since Joy is a vet, but she teaches self-care and a lot of intangible skills, like bedside manner, to students who want to become healing professionals later.
"So, you're a doctor now?"
"No, nurse. I haven't been away long enough to finish med school. I wanted to be a doctor, but then I didn't want to be away long enough. And nurses really help people. That's all I wanted to be able to do as a doctor, and I can do it equally well as a nurse."
"I'm cold and my head hurts, Nurse."
"Want your blankets back?"
"Huh? Yeah, please."
"Here. Maybe willow bark would help your head? I think we have some. I've never used it, though."
"Willow bark? That's like, plant aspirin, right?"
"Not quite. Willow bark is salicylic acid. Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. It's a derivative. I'll talk to Ham about it. He's an herbalist, you know."
I made a noise. When I woke again my head still hurt and it was snowing. Egg wasn't there, but I suppose he's somewhere in the dorm. I've tried reading, some, but I still can't concentrate. So I'm writing this and watching the snow fall outside, grey and silent. Sometimes I can hear wind. The snowflakes are falling, slanting through the air left to right, and I'm trying to see how far away through the air I can spot them. It's very pretty.
[Next post, February 21: What I do in the Mornings, Now]